Birds Flock, Fish School, People Tribe
By Tom Ryan
According to Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization, the success of a company depends on its tribes – groups of 20 to 150 people that come together on their own rather than through management, and these tribes have more influence than teams, companies or CEOs in determining how much and what quality of work gets done.
Based on a study of approximately 24,000 people in more than two dozen organizations over a ten-year period, Tribal Leadership explores the basic ways in which people act and react individually and as groups or tribes.
“Great leaders know they can’t instantly change the culture of 100,000 people, or even 50 people, with gimmicks or trendy initiatives,” the authors, Dave Logan and John King, co-wrote in a recent article on slate.com. “Successful executives instead focus on developing their culture one tribe at a time. The heart of leadership development is helping leaders upgrade the effectiveness of their tribes, taking these groups from ‘adequate’ to ‘outstanding.'”
The book said key leverage points between “tribes” have not been mapped, and it breaks down tribal mindset into five distinct stages starting with the least effective and least productive types of tribe members or employees to the most positive and productive. The authors, who are all partners at the management consulting firm CultureSync, then explain how tribal leaders (AKA managers) can elevate the people in their organization to the next level.
The five stages are:
1: Employees have a “life sucks” attitude. To upgrade them, managers must provide examples of those who made wise choices and changed their outlook.
Stage 2: Disconnected and disengaged workers believe that they’re stuck. Employees need to be told they’re valued.
Stage 3: This is where 48 percent of workers fall. They use I, me and my constantly. They may work well in an organization, but teamwork doesn’t fit within their comfort zones.
Stage 4: These employees understand the real goal: to make an impact on stakeholders.
Stage 5: Employees at all levels embrace a “noble cause.” Execution becomes the focus.
One fan of the book is Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh, who last week with the authors’ permission began offering a free audio download of the book at Zappos.com.
“At Zappos, our number one focus is on company culture. We believe if we get that right, most of the other stuff, like great customer service and an enduring brand, will happen naturally on its own,” said Mr. Hsieh in a statement. “We’d be thrilled if free access to the audio version of Tribal Leadership on our site encourages others within organizations to focus on attaining great cultures as well. Ultimately, everyone benefits from a happier, more energized, more satisfied and more productive workforce.”
Discussion Questions: What do you think of the metaphor of “tribes” and “tribal culture” driving peak performance across organizations? What are the challenges of applying this theory in establishing a thriving corporate culture?
- Tribal Leadership – Business Lexington
- Guest Column: Tribal Leadership – bizbox.slate.com
- Zappos.com Offers Free Audio Download of Landmark Business Book ‘Tribal Leadership’ – Business Wire